Keepers' Diaries, June 2005

Voi Reintegration Unit

Surprisingly, Emily, Aitong and Sweet Sally have had contact with the orphaned unit just once this month; on the 5th, when they came to drink at the Stockades, and then waited for the babies at the Spring Gate. Of course, there was a joyful and noisy reunion when the orphans appeared, with Emily and Aitong touching each and every one gently with their trunks, before escorting them back home and only leaving once the babies were settled into their Stockades for the night. Lissa, her two calves, Lali and Lara, along with ex-orphans Mpenzi and Uaso feature twice, once when they were feeding at the top of nearby Mazinga Hill and also when they, too, came to drink at the Stockades in the evening, when Lissa and Uaso went round all the Stockades, greeting the occupants.

01 June 2005

By 6.45 a.m. in the morning, it was already very hot, so the orphans went to the waterhole to drink and bathe at l0 a.m. Whilst returning in the evening, having had a good day feeding and playing with one another, Burra and Seraa played a fascinating game of hide and seek, running later to catch up with the others, who were already nearing the Stockade.

02 June 2005

There was a serious quest for food all morning. However at 4.40 p.m. they felt it was time to play. Mukwaju chose Mweya, and Lolokwe, Icholta. Later Icholta held Ndara’s trunk to entice her into the pushing game. When Ndara wandered off, Icholta lay down to encourage the others to climb on her. Sosian and Irima obliged, whilst Salama went to climb on Solango, who was also lying on the ground.

03 June 2005

Two buffalo came to drink from the orphans’ drums at 10 a.m. whilst the orphans were bathing. The elephants chased off these two buffalo, but retreated when they encountered a huge herd of over a thousand others also on their way to drink from their mudbath. Whilst the buffaloes occupied the entire waterhole, the orphans stood aside, lifting up their trunks to smell them, with no option but to wait until they had moved off.

04 June 2005

The orphans enjoyed an extensive mudwallow today, because it was very hot. Icholta and Ndara played in the mud, closely watched by Natumi. Edie interrupted the game, pushing Ndara out, after which the orphans enjoyed testing each other’s strength. Burra chose Morani as a sparring partner, whilst Nyiro took Salama and Lolokwe, Solango. Thoma played with Seraa. The game drew to a rapid conclusion when the milk tractor arrived.

05 June 2005

It was another hot day. Lolokwe went to wait outside the top Stockade so that he could challenge Salama in a serious shoving match. Back at the Stockades in the evening, Emily, Aitong and Sweet Sally arrived to drink from the Stockade waterhole, and then went to the Spring Gate to await the arrival of the babies. The reunion of the two groups was fantastic with trumpeting, screaming and rumbling. Emily and Aitong went around the entire group, touching each and every one gently with their trunks, and then escorted them back to the Stockades, leaving towards the Western side of the hill when all the orphans were settled.

06 June 2005

At the mudbath, Thoma and Morani enjoyed a pushing game. Morani then left Thoma to engage Burra. In the evening the orphans were very happy, running hither and thither and trumpeting. Icholta, Tsavo and Mukwaju had a beautiful game, rolling onto each other, which ended only when it was time to return for the night.

07 June 2005

The stage was taken by Sosian and Mukwaju today, who indulged in a test of strength. When he found himself about to lose the battle, Sosian moved to higher ground for some advantage and succeeded in pushing Mukwaju down. Burra knelt down and used his mouth, trunk and tusks to uproot a plant. At first it appeared a thankless task, as he manoeuvred around trying to get a better position, but eventually he succeeded, and came running happily to join the others with the root in his mouth.

08 June 2005

Lissa, and her two calves, Lara and Lali, along with Mpenzi, and Uaso were spotted at the top of Mazinga Hill by the orphans, who attempted to climb up and join them. However, because they were right at the top, and it was hot, the orphans came back down at l0 a.m. to head for the mudbath instead.

09 June 2005

A wild group of three large elephant cows and four teenagers joined the orphans at 9.30 a.m. Burra moved in rapidly to greet one of the cows, who indulged him by playing a gentle pushing game, careful not to injure him with her large tusks. The wild group grazed for two hours with our orphans before wandering off, when Ndara was tempted to join them, but later returned.

10 June 2005

The orphans joined a large wild group of 15 elephants today. They completed integrated within the wild herd, forming a very large unit. The orphans challenged wild age mates. Twenty minutes later, a teenage bull, presumed to be another member of the wild group, appeared from the bush. Ilingwezi and Natumi went to welcome him, tossing their trunks forward to greet him, and accompanying him back to the main group. The orphans spent the entire day with this wild herd, leaving them only at 5.10 p.m. when it was time to return to the Night Stockades. Lissa’s group came to the Stockades to drink in the evening when little Lali playfully ran hither and thither. Since the orphans were already inside the Night Stockades, Lissa and Uaso went around all the Stockades, greeting the orphans inside by rumbling to them and lifting up their trunks. They left at 7 p.m. heading East.

11 June 2005

Burra was enjoying being the Leader when the orphans left in the morning, and became upset when Solango and Natumi arrived to usurp his position. This resulted in a tough fight between Solango and Burra, so Natumi got the lead. Later, the orphans joined a wild group of seven, who were coming to drink at their mudwallow. After drinking the wild elephants led the orphans down towards the airstrip, but the orphans turned back, when it was then time to return in the evening. However, Laikipia remained behind with the wild elephants, but rejoined the orphans at the Spring Gate on their way home.

12 June 2005

Burra led the orphans to an early bath today, because it was hot. There Seraa dominated the entire process, sitting on her buttocks on the walls of the waterhole and tossing her trunk skywards whilst sounding squeaky trumpets! This attracted Morani into the water, after which Tsavo and Nyiro, who were watching events closely, plunged in to drive Morani out, jealous that he was attracting all the attention.

13 June 2005

The weather was cloudy, so it was a cool day, enabling the orphans to concentrate on feeding. Ilingwezi was very ingenious, plucking branches and putting them onto her back to accumulate, carry off and eat at leisure. However, when she saw Loisaba approaching, she quickly retrieved them and moved off hurriedly to feed on them. Pushing games today included Nyiro challenging Laikipia, whilst Tsavo took on Mvita and Mweya took Lolokwe. In the evening Laikipia and Morani enjoyed a game of hide and seek. When they were both exhausted, Laikipia went to rest his head on Morani, but finding it heavy, Morani moved away.

14 June 2005

Just before the noon mudbath, Salama chose a piece of dry stick, throwing it here and there with his trunk. He then carried it down to the waterhole, where he placed it on one of the drinking drums. Having had a drink, he again took his stick and used it to scratch between his legs. When Nyiro arrived to challenge him to a pushing game, he tossed the stick away. Standing on the slippery bank, Lolokwe played with Morani who was on dry ground, so Morani won this bout which made him feel very proud. Meanwhile Ndara scratched her bottom against Sosian, whilst Solango stood calmly next to Mweiga.

15 June 2005

Mukwaju, Salama and Nyiro led the orphans out this morning. They went slowly up Mazinga Hill, keeping a slow pace because of Mweiga. At noon, they were very thirsty, and drank quickly in order to thoroughly enjoy the mudbath. Edie went rolling around in the mud, closely watched by Sosian, Mukwaju and Lolokwe. The orphans enjoyed an exciting game in the evening, each employing their own unique tricks to succeed in mounting one another. However, Thoma found herself in a fix when she lay down to entice Mweya to play with her, and instead found herself mounted by all the others instead. She bellowed loudly when she noticed huge Laikipia approaching, so the Keepers came to her rescue. Morani found an anthill against which to roll, whilst Mpala and Solango engaged one another in a shoving match. By the time they reached the Stockade, they were all in a very happy and contented mood.

16 June 2005

It was a cool and windy morning. Salama led the orphans up Mazinga Hill to feed, but some baboons barking an alarm call proved a deterrent, forcing the orphans down again. They all shook their heads in annoyance. At the mudbath, Burra and Lolokwe wallowed wonderfully, whilst Solango and Sosian enjoyed a dustbath.

17 June 2005

At the mudbath, Nyiro wanted to try and mount weak Mweiga, and was blocked by Mweya, who would not allow him access, blocking his path wherever he went. Instead, she even subjected herself to a mounting in order to spare Mweiga. In the end, thwarted at every attempt by Mweya, Nyiro gave up.

18 June 2005

Nyiro, Lolokwe, Salama and Mweya had a wonderful game, chasing each other here and there in the afternoon. Salama tried to mount onto Mweya, which made Nyiro and Lolokwe jealous, so Nyiro took soil into his trunk, and blew it straight into Salama’s eye, forcing him to come down. Mweya took the opportunity for revenge, engaging Salama in a tough fight. Salama went round and came back again to try and mount Mweya, as though to tell her she had not won yet. Edie wanted to play with Solango in the evening, tightly holding onto his back which prompted Solango to take refuge near Natumi.

19 June 2005

Upon emerging from the Night Stockades, Laikipia challenged Lolokwe to a shoving match. Lolokwe was reluctant, and kept running off, but Laikipia pursued him until he turned to do battle. Later Lolokwe and Morani went to climb onto Mukwaju who was lying down dusting himself in soft soil. Icholta and Laikipia joined in the dusting game whilst Irima chose a stick, and tossed it around, enjoying his game solo.

20 June 2005

It was a very cold day, so the orphans concentrated on feeding, and never even went to take a drink at the waterhole. Tsavo began to tease Mukwaju for a pushing game, but Mukwaju ignored him and carried on feeding.

21 June 2005

Burra became very excited when he took the lead today, happily swinging his trunk from side to side, whilst trumpeting and pacing fast in order not to be overtaken by any of the others. The orphans took an early 10.30 a.m. bath, during which there were many diversions. Ndara went to scratch her buttocks against the waterhole wall, but was mounted by Thoma, which prompted her to plunge into the waterhole, leaving Thoma pondering the next move. Burra and Morani were busy testing their strength but decided to go into the water when they spotted Salama approaching them.

22 June 2005

There was a light shower of rain in the morning, so the orphans, who were scattered widely, turned their backs into the rain and continued feeding. In the evening Laikipia led the orphans home, when Sosian found himself left behind. He bellowed loudly which brought Irima back at the run to collect him, after which both ran to catch up with the others.

23 June 2005

The orphans fed up Mazinga Hill today, returning to take water at 11 a.m. Having drunk, Mvita, Edie, Loisaba and Mweya went into the mudbath, but were forced to run out when Laikipia came rushing along intending to plunge in! They then joined him, splashing water on their bodies with their forelegs.

24 June 2005

A wild group of l0 elephants came to drink at 9 a.m., taking the clean water from the orphans’ drums. One wild calf screamed loudly, which drew the attention of the orphans, who were some way off. Natumi was so concerned that she began to head in the direction of the noise, but retreated when the others did not come along with her. The Keepers had to refill the buckets, since the wild elephants had finished all the water.

25 June 2005

Edie was very happy when she emerged the best swimmer of the day. She trumpeted whilst running in and out of the mudbath, long after the others had left. She then ran after them trumpeting as though to announce her success. Seraa and Thoma enjoyed throwing soil over their backs, whilst Sosian scratched himself against a dry tree. In the evening, Laikipia looked embarrassed when both Mvita and Salama declined his challenge for a pushing game. Instead Salama went to mount onto Mweya, whilst Burra took on Solango. Laikipia remained quiet watching them jealously. The game ended when they all left for the Stockade at 5 p.m. (The last five days of the June Voi Diary will be recorded in July).

26 June 2005

Early this morning, just outside their Night Stockade, Nyiro, Mukwaju and Tsavo played a game chasing each other round a fallen Acacia tree. When Natumi, Ilingwezi and Edie led the others out to browse, the game ended. Out in the Park, the orphans spread out to feed, coming together at noon for the mudbath.

27 June 2005

On the way back in the evening, Thoma, Seraa, Olokwe and Loisaba enjoyed playing, rolling on each other and chasing each other, but during all this, Loisaba sprained an ankle.

28 June 2005

The orphans fed at the foot of Mazinga Hill, after which Moran, Burra and Mweya competed with each other to lead the group to the mudbath. Solango really enjoyed himself, tossing his trunk skywards in ecstacy, before trying to pluck a tick from his eye with his trunk. The Keepers helped him remove the parasite.

29 June 2005

Loisaba is walking better today, but is avoiding pushing and mounting games. The wild herd led by the Matriarch “Naomi” came to drink at the Orphans’ Stockades in the evening, after the babies had gone to bed. Catherine was with a calf of about 2 years old, whilst another cow had a very small baby. One young teenage Nannie was helping the mother to nurse her calf, chasing off any other wild animals nearby.

30 June 2005

It was a cloudy morning, so the orphans concentrated on feeding. Seraa got a scare, whilst feeding apart from the others, when she turned and saw an anthill nearby. Thinking it was another wild animal, she bellowed and raced back to the others, remaining close to them for the rest of the day!